Tom Holland takes up the webslingers as your friendly neighbourhood Spider-ManSONY PICTURES RELEASING

Spider-Man holds a unique place in cinematic culture. Over the past 15 years, audiences have been offered three different iterations of the character across six feature films. Spider-Man: Homecoming, starring Tom Holland as Peter Parker, comes just three years after Andrew Garfield played the part in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Thankfully, this dynamic reboot has earned its place in the pantheon of great superhero movies.

“Michael Keaton can steal every scene he’s in with a twitch of his mouth.”

What Homecoming really knocks out of the park is the focus placed on Parker’s civilian life, in this case as an awkward teenager. On a basic level it is important that, as a member of the audience, you feel that you could be Spider-Man, too. The joy, exhilaration and anxiety of having a secret alter-ego are all captured perfectly in the script and by Holland’s energetic performance. Most importantly, we feel Parker’s vulnerability and can honestly believe that his life is in danger. This is both satisfying and true to the comics, which often deal with his failures.

Holland’s Parker also inhabits a world that is refreshingly realistic. Jacob Batalan, Laura Harrier, Zendaya, Tony Revolori, and Donald Glover all contribute to a diverse and stunningly talented supporting cast. Flash Thompson, played by Revolori, feels emblematic of the step forward Homecoming has taken. He is usually portrayed as a 1950s-era physical bully, but here is merely taunting and is eventually shown to be weak.

Devotees of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) will also be rewarded with a film which gently makes reference to the wider world without feeling overly-peppered with adverts (see Avengers: Age of Ultron). With a staggering 15 other films inhabiting the MCU alongside Homecoming, a certain cameo feels completely earned, and references to the Chitauri invasion from Avengers Assemble are justified and actually make the film more believable.

“Michael Giacchino’s efforts are barely perceptible and make no attempt at rivalling Danny Elfman’s classic theme from Raimi’s films.”

MCU films have famously struggled with their antagonists, often opting for last-minute twist villains that leave a hollow feeling. Michael Keaton’s portrayal of the Vulture, however, elevates Homecoming considerably. Keaton can steal every scene he’s in with a twitch of his mouth, and a quiet confrontation with Holland is probably the best moment in the entire movie. The Vulture is not usually considered one of Spider-Man’s best opponents, but he works so well in this case because he keeps the scale of the threat relatively small and local. He also provokes thoughts about how the existence of superheroes creates that of supervillains, a theme the MCU has been developing since Age of Ultron.

Where Homecoming lacks somewhat is in its symbolic power. This is especially true when it is compared to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, usually considered the benchmark for Spidey’s cinematic appearances. Although the Stark-designed suit of Homecoming is by far the most satisfying version yet, it feels as though visually more could have been made of the iconic place in comic book culture that this superhero holds. This could have been greatly aided by a moving score, but Michael Giacchino’s efforts are barely perceptible and make no attempt at rivalling Danny Elfman’s classic theme from Raimi’s films.

Nevertheless, this is a thoroughly entertaining film which pays fan service while remaining a self-contained coming-of-age story. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is jubilant and has the potential for a very successful run of films

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